Activity Introduction

CA-boat-poster-photoframeQuick Summary: Students will be immersed in and connect with the documentary film Chasing Asylum. They will engage with the film from critical, emotional, cultural and ethical perspectives and understand some of the background of the film while also considering the intentions of the filmmaker. 

CA-Title-Treatment-ReversalChasing Asylum exposes the real impact of Australia’s offshore detention policies through the personal accounts of people seeking asylum and whistleblowers who tried to work within the system. To watch the documentary, stream it on Kanopy and Clickview or purchase the DVD at the ATOM Education Shop.


Learning Intentions:

  • Students will understand how to actively view documentary films.
  • Students will consider the importance of context and background when critically considering a documentary film.
  • Students will engage with the Chasing Asylum documentary as the filmmaker intended.

21st Century Skills

ca watching film skills v2

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions

Year 10 English

  • Analyse and evaluate how people, cultures, places, events, objects and concepts are represented in texts, including media texts, through language, structural and/or visual choices (ACELY1749)

Syllabus outcomes: EN5-8D

General Capabilities: Literacy, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding, Intercultural Understanding.

Cross-curriculum priority:

Relevant parts of Year 10 English achievement standards: Students evaluate how text structures can be used in innovative ways by different authors. They explain how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary contributes to the development of individual style. They develop and justify their own interpretations of texts. They evaluate other interpretations, analysing the evidence used to support them. They listen for ways features within texts can be manipulated to achieve particular effects.

Topic: Social Issues.

Unit of work: Stories of Chasing Asylum – access the unit overview here.

Time required: 120 minutes.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Low – set up AV equipment, set film context and supervise student viewing of film.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student OR computers/tablets to access the online worksheet. Device capable of audio/visual presentation to present a film to the class, projector and speakers. (A purpose-specific viewing room would be ideal.) You will need to access the Chasing Asylum film by streaming it from Kanopy or purchasing the DVD at the ATOM Education Shop. Other factsheets: Chasing Asylum – Film SynopsisDocumentary Viewing – FactsheetThings to address before viewing and studying Chasing Asylum.

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

Keywords: documentary, asylum seeking, refugee, migrant, immigrant, emigrant, persecution, sovereignty, nation-state, citizenship, statelessness, whistleblower, policy.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

CA-Cambodia-Tim-Deagle-photoframeTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will become active viewers of a documentary film in order to consider its content and critically assess the intention of the filmmaker.

Teacher content information: The issue of people seeking asylum and border protection is very political - many different perspectives exist across a range of contemporary and historical media texts. Australia has a long history of migration resulting in diverse ethnicities, cultures and religions. The movement of people has occurred for varied reasons, including work and employment opportunities, family connections, and leaving due to the effects of war or conflict and persecution.

As conflicts and security challenges impact various regions of the world, the global and national debate around refugees and asylum seekers has intensified. It is in this context that scrutiny and politicisation of this issue has increased. Since 1992, policies of both sides of the Australian government have maintain

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: Many documentary filmmakers attempt to change or improve society in some way with their documentaries.

After watching Chasing Asylum, organise your thoughts and responses to the film by completing the 'Think, Puzzle, Explore' visible thinking routine:

What do you THINK you know about the film/topic? What PUZZLEMENTS do you have about the film/topic? What aspects of the film/topic would you like to EXPLORE?







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